Sunday, 8 November 2015

Burkina Faso and its Place Names

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time to cast my net a little wider. This time Burkina Faso and a look at some of its largest settlements and most interesting names and starting with the capital.

Ouagadougou is not only the capital but, albeit predicably, the largest city. The modern form of the name is a French version of the original, from the 15th century, when Ninsi tribes in the area were forever battling for supremity until, in 1441, victory by the Yonyonse tribe under Wubri. He renamed Kumbee-Tenga as Wage sabre soba koumbem tenga or 'the village of the head war chief'.

Bobo-Dioulasso could almost be considered of artificial origins, certainly this is not of much help in understanding the name as it simply represents the name coined by French colonists to mean 'home of the Bobo-Dioula'.

Ouahigouya was founded in 1757 as the capital of the Yatenga Kingdom, this reflected in its name meaning 'come and prostrate yourselves' - a most unusual invitation and one where I can think of at least a dozen reasons for politely declining.

Fada N'gourma is another Burkina Faso place name with a most unusual and uninspiring meaning. Here the name is from the Hausa tongue and refers to 'the place where one pays the tax'.

Tenkodogo is traditionally held to have been founded by Ouedraogo, son of the Ghanaian princess Yennenga, and named from tenga kodogo with the simplistic meaning of 'the old land'.

Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.

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